“Everyone can feel it…’Delicious’…When the time to eat is delicious, the thing to eat is delicious…”

– Chef Yukimura Motoyoshi

INSTAGRAMMABLE YŌSHOKU

Tucked away down a narrow offshoot of Pontocho is one of Kyoto’s most social media buzz-worthy eateries, Kichi Kichi. Videos and images of Yukimura Motoyoshi, Kichi Kichi’s chef and owner, have made their way around the internet in part due to his high energy and endearingly quirky personality. However, it is Chef Motoyoshi’s specific style of Kichi Kichi’s most famous dish, omurice, that has made the restaurant increasingly famous on social media. Kichi Kichi’s social media notoriety skyrocketed in mid 2018 when Buzzfeed featured Chef Motoyoshi and his omurice on their “Worth It” Youtube series.

Omurice is an example of yōshoku, a western-influenced style of Japanese food that grew in popularity after the influx of western civilization to Japan during the Meiji era. The dish’s typical form is that of fried rice wrapped in a thin omelette, which is then topped with ketchup. Nowadays there are multiple variations of omurice, with the most popular swapping out ketchup for a richer gravy or demi-glace sauce.

KICHI KICHI OMURICE

Omurice at Kichi Kichi
Kichi Kichi Omurice - Fluffy egg omelette over fried rice with demi-glace

And here it is, Kichi Kichi’s famous omurice. As a relatively humble dish of egg and fried rice, the plating looked fairly straightforward. However, a single image of the final product cannot convey one of the main draws of Kichi Kichi: Chef Motoyoshi as he prepares each batch to order. The small restaurant seats only about ten at the counter overlooking the kitchen. Although there are other items on the menu, given its level of social media fame the omurice is undoubtedly the most ordered dish. This gives Chef Motoyoshi the setting and the stage to showcase the dish that he’s grown to be so passionate about. Here’s a short recording of him preparing our orders:

Kichi Kichi’s omurice is undoubtedly special when compared to the typical versions of this dish. The egg is extremely runny and soft, adding a luxurious feel to the dish. The upgrade from ketchup to a rich demi-glace adds a complexity and depth of flavor, although it does stray further toward sweet than my palate would prefer.

Beef Tongue Stew at Kichi Kichi
Beef Tongue Stew - Tender beef tongue with vegetables and demi-glace

Although the omurice is Kichi Kichi’s most famous dish, Chef Motoyoshi states that the number one dish at his restaurant for flavor is the beef tongue stew. The beef tongue in this stew is very tender and brings with it the intense “beefy” flavor one would expect of the ingredient. The richness of the protein and demi-glace is balanced a little by just a touch of sour cream. I enjoyed the dish overall, but again the demi-glace’s (presumably the same base sauce used on the omurice) lean toward sweet wasn’t ideal for my palate.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Getting a reservation here is tricky. I had tried during out last visit to Kyoto in 2017, but was unable to secure one. If you’re visiting from outside of Japan, it is recommended that you book your reservation online. You can try to use your hotel concierge, but my experience was that reservations book up for the month almost as soon as they become available. If you do manage to get a spot, your reservation will be for just one hour. This wasn’t a problem for us as we were in-and-out within 45 minutes. Service is very fast and efficient here (but still warm and friendly), likely out of necessity to handle the restaurant’s popularity.

As mentioned before, the restaurant is quite small with mostly counter seating that overlooks the kitchen. While the hole-in-the-wall feel may not be as comfortable for some, the overall atmosphere and energy of the restaurant is very welcoming. Chef Motoyoshi is extremely energetic and engaging. Even though he must make hundreds of omurice per night, it felt like he makes each one with the same excitement as his first. He’s not shy and will pose for your photos and videos.

When it comes to the food, the main question in my head before dinner was if the flavors would warrant the effort needed to get a reservation. On this I’d say I have mixed feelings. On the one hand Kichi Kichi’s omurice is certainly tasty and above average. I love a runny yolk so the very soft-scrambled texture of the omelette that envelopes the fried rice already places this omurice over others I’ve had. But when it comes to the overall flavor, the dish was good but not spectacular. I shared the same feelings about the beef tongue stew; a competent and tasty dish, but nothing that’ll knock your socks off.

Pricing here is a bit richer than you’d typically pay for an omurice elsewhere (¥2700 or $25 USD). The beef tongue stew was a bit more, ringing in at ¥3250 or $30 USD.

So to borrow a theme from Buzzfeed… is Kichi Kichi “worth it”? For the overall experience of seeing Chef Motoyoshi, gleefully making omurice after omurice, Kichi Kichi is worth at least one visit. I’m not sure if the flavors were strong enough to bring me back, but dining at Kichi Kichi was certainly an entertaining and enjoyable experience nonetheless.

SCORECARD

Food 80/ 100
Service 90/ 100
Atmosphere 95/ 100
Price Value 85/ 100
Overall Score 85/ 100

Kichi Kichi  キチキチ
Nagomimachi 185-4
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto JP
Ph: +81 075-211-1484
http://kichi2.net/

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